For obvious historical reasons, the anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World War has always carried tremendous significance for world Jewry. This year’s world-wide commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the triumph of the free world over the forces of fascism in World War Two, also saw the observance of a relatively new addition to the Jewish religious calendar — ‘Day of Salvation and Liberation.’
Although the ‘Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day’ has been annually observed every 27th of Nissan ever since shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, this is the first holiday that celebrates the liberation and deliverance of the survivors, rather than commemorates those that perished.
This date of observance was officially instituted by the Israeli Knesset in 2018, on the initiative of Mr. German Zaharyaev, the founder and head of STMEGI — the main communal association of the Mountain Jewish community. It is chiefly thanks to the advocacy and efforts of Mr. Zaharyaev that the official induction of this date into the Jewish cultural calendar, was endorsed unanimously by Jewish religious and community leaders worldwide, as well as the political leadership of the state of Israel.
The day in the Jewish calendar chosen for the observance of this solemn occasion is the 26th of Iyar — which corresponds with the historical date of the 9th of May, 1945 — the date Nazi Germany capitulated to the Allies.
This year, the date in the Gregorian calendar corresponding to the 26th of Iyar, fell on Wednesday, the 2oth of May. The day saw Rabbi Berel Lazar – the Chief Rabbi of Russia and Mr. Zaharyaev, being joined by Rabbi Itzhak Yosef – the Chief Rabbi of Israel, together with Rabbi Isaac Landau – the Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak to offer a collective prayer of remembrance and gratitude to the Almighty, for the salvation and deliverance of the Jewish people from one of the darkest moments of their history. The event was broadcast around the globe and made available to all those wishing to participate via ZOOM.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, joined in offering congratulations to the Russian (as well as worldwide) Jewish community, referring to the date as “one of the most important ones in the Jewish calendar” and commenting that in 2020, the date carries “[..] an even greater special significance and spirit” due to it being a jubilee year. President Putin additionally commented that he is “[..] firmly convinced that future generations must carefully preserve the memory of the tragic events of the War, in order to always be mindful of the horrific and destructive results that connivance of excessive nationalism, antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia can lead to.”